top 10 posts of 2015

Happy New Year! I’ve been taking a break from blogging, but wanted to share the top 10 posts of 2015. IMG_50152015-04-26 hairwash haircut luang prabang by Melissa Crossett

1. the hair-washing joint

2015-01-29 biking with kids in luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 12)2. weekend adventures: biking to the river

2015-01-20 extending the kitchen counter by Melissa Crossett (10 of 10)3. quick kitchen project

2015-03-27 fun at the Nam Khan river by Melissa Crossett (1 of 9)4. fun at the Nam Khan River

2015-03-26 favorite travel trunk by Melissa Crossett (5 of 5)5. our favorite luggage

2015-06-08 mekong river cruise by Melissa Crossett (13 of 62)6. Mekong River cruise – upriver

2015-03-17 Luang Prabang butterfly park by Melissa Crossett (16 of 17)7. weekend adventures: butterfly park

2015-09-21 elephant riding with kids in Luang Prabang by Melissa Crossett (23 of 25)8. Elephants! (tour guides part 3)

2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (6 of 13)9. Kuang Si Waterfalls (tour guides part 2)

2015-09-14 Luang Prabang boat races by Ryan Crossett (19 of 46)10. off to the boat races 2015

p.s. here are the top 10 posts of 2014

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festival of lights

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 23)

The Festival of Lights, Fire Boat Festival or Bun Lai Heua Fai in Luang Prabang celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent.  Individuals make little “boats” out of slices of banana stalk and decorate them with flowers, a candle and incense and send them floating down the river.  Talia made one at school so before the crowds showed up we sent hers off down the river.   Then we went off to see what else was going on.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 23)

All the temples in town, expecially the ones in the historic parts of town, where we live, were decorated with hundreds of candles and hanging lanterns.  The site was quite cosy and magical.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 23)

The monks were busy lighting hundreds of candles in their temples.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 23)

The candlelight on the stupas and temples was beautiful and attracted many photographers professional and amateur alike.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 23)

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 4)

Along the way we met Talia’s friends from school who were waiting to watch the parade of fire boats that would be coming down the street.

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (13 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (14 of 23)

When the temple percussionists started the playing the parade was underway.  They play cymbals, a gong or two, and of course the big drum.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (15 of 23)

Schools and other groups sponsored fire boats and joined in the parade.  The fire boats are boats made with paper over a frame and covered with candles.  As you can imagine, candles and paper don’t mix well so each boat had a few “fire fighters” who tried to make sure that their boat made the trip to the river without burning up.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (16 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (17 of 23)

Some groups even dressed up in traditional costumes to escort their boat to the river.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (18 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (19 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (20 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (21 of 23)2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 4)

We ended up watching most of the parade in front of some friends’ house, which was in a convenient spot right before the parade turned into the temple.2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (22 of 23) 2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (23 of 23)

All of the boats congregated at Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest and most famous temple in Luang Prabang.

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 4)The end of Buddhist lent falls on a full moon, which tonight was sitting right above the temple.

2015-12-10 festival of lights luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 4)

After leaving the temple the boats are carried down some steep stairs to the Mekong River.  We walked along the river a ways to sit and watch the boats float by.  It’s too bad the festival only lasts one evening of the year, because it was so magical.

up at dawn

Every morning at dawn, hundreds of monks in Luang Prabang leave their temples, walk single file down the street in their saffron robes to collect alms. I decided to get the big girls up early at the end of Buddhist Lent, so that we could observe this religious ritual on a day that the streets are particularly full of locals giving alms.

2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 1)This ceremony has become a huge tourist attraction, so we chose a quieter street in hopes of seeing a more genuine event.  As we walked down the street, we watched people set their mats out and arrange their offerings of sticky rice, packaged food, money, flowers, incense etc… 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (1 of 22)Getting up at 5:30 was exciting for the girls, but they also wanted to sit down as soon as we found a good spot to watch. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (2 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (3 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (4 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (5 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (6 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (7 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (8 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (9 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (10 of 22)Some nice old lady called the girls over to come get some snacks from her. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (11 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (12 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (13 of 22)Others not participating in alms giving, were going about their normal morning routines at their outdoor kitchens. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (14 of 22)There were still a number of tourists on this quiet street. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (15 of 22)And a few locals wanting to get some pictures of my girls with theirs. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (16 of 22)You can see they are nearing the end of their walk as they are now carrying an additional plastic bag full of food. 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (17 of 22)The monks in turn give some of what they’ve received back to the kids in the neighborhood who are waiting with their own empty basket.  2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (19 of 22) 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (20 of 22)We saw our neighbors out giving alms too.2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (21 of 22)and receiving quite a bit in return! 2015-11-22 alms giving luang prabang by Melissa Crossett (22 of 22)We ended our early outing by enjoying breakfast at a cafe and returning home to Daddy and Isla who had just gotten up. And Talia was already ready for a nap!

October-gram

Here are a few snapshots from October that you may have missed if you aren’t on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.

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Because tutus make folding laundry so much more fun 👸 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 2, 2015 at 8:35pm PDT

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She found herself the perfect reading spot.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 4, 2015 at 7:33pm PDT

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First tree climbing experience for the girls in a really old gnarled plumeria tree. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 5, 2015 at 6:07am PDT

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Watching a local fisherman work on his nets.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 13, 2015 at 5:49am PDT

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Our afternoon walks almost always take us to the river. It’s a highlight of my day. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 19, 2015 at 6:08am PDT

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Thursdays are for visiting Daddy at work.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 22, 2015 at 7:07am PDT

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Up early to watch the monks collect alms on the end of Buddhist lent. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 26, 2015 at 7:20pm PDT

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Stayed up late enjoying the magical Festival of Lights

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 28, 2015 at 9:39am PDT

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I had a princess helping me with laundry today. 👑

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Oct 30, 2015 at 5:02am PDT

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September-gram

Here are a few snapshots from September that you may have missed if you aren’t on Instagram. You can see these and more by clicking here.

First day of 1st grade! Off to afternoon school to learn some Lao language.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:37pm PDT

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Trying to stay dry in the pouring rain. #notgonnahappen A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 3, 2015 at 6:06am PDT

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Boat races!

A video posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:07pm PDT

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Highlight of the boat races for these two was getting to pick out a balloon for the first time. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 12, 2015 at 6:09am PDT

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The best place to ride bikes around here is at the neighborhood temple! It’s where all the kids play after school.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 16, 2015 at 6:50pm PDT

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“grilling fish” by the river. Who needs toys? 🌿 A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 20, 2015 at 6:40am PDT

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Every kid’s dream… To drive her own Tuk-tuk.

A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 22, 2015 at 6:05am PDT

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Soaking up some family time before high season starts up here. A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 8:36pm PDT

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A spectacular Saturday evening sunset over the Mekong River. #nofilter A photo posted by Melissa (@thelandinbetween) on Sep 26, 2015 at 6:20am PDT

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What were the highlights of September for you?

Kuang Si Waterfalls (tour guides part 2)

Another item on our list as tour guides, was to take Ryan’s brother and sister in law to enjoy the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls.2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (1 of 13)It’s always fun to watch the bears in the sanctuary on the way in. 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (3 of 13)First, we walked to the top to see the all the different pools and the big waterfall, and took the chance to scout out our options for swimming holes. Tip: get there early to beat the crowds and you can have a pool to yourself! 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (5 of 13)2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (6 of 13)The water is always pretty chilly, but a hot sunny day made it quite refreshing. It’s perfect for kids, even if they can’t swim yet, because there are lots of shallow areas to play and enjoy the slippery banks.  2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (7 of 13) 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (8 of 13)An added bonus of these waterfalls is that this is the native habitat for the famous “fish spa” fish, so the dead skin from your feet gets cleaned up while you wade around.  Nibble, nibble, yum, yum!  Ryan enjoys watching unsuspecting newbies get nibbled for first time. Wait for it…!2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (10 of 13)The water has minerals in it making the water a turquoise color and forming a rough buildup on rocks and logs, making climbing and exploring super fun and easy. 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (11 of 13) 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (12 of 13) 2015-09-30 Kuangsi waterfalls with kids by Melissa Crossett (13 of 13)We enjoyed a couple hours of swimming, then packed up to get some lunch near the entrance of the park before heading back home.

What is your favorite waterfall to visit?  Could your feet use a fish spa?

Mt Phousi (tour guides part 1)

2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (2 of 11)We were so excited to have some family come visit us for a couple of weeks this summer!  Aside from lots of relaxed time (and late nights!) catching up at home, it gave us the chance to see Luang Prabang as tourists again.  Ryan was able to take a few days off work, and we also made the most of the two weekends during their visit.2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (3 of 11)The temps were HOT! So, we went swimming a couple of times, and tried to cool off in the AC between outings.  2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (4 of 11)In the middle of Luang Prabang is Mt Phousi.  One evening we decided to make the climb at dusk to show them the view from the top of the town. 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (5 of 11)It’s a LOT of stairs, but the kids love it and race on up ahead.2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (9 of 11)We were all dripping with sweat by the time we reached the top (along with everyone else!) but the views were worth it. 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (7 of 11) 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (8 of 11) 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (10 of 11)Our kids were part of the attraction for a crowd of Asian tourists, but they didn’t seem to mind. We had fun people watching, as well as enjoying a beautiful sunset over the river before heading back down. 2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (11 of 11)2015-09-30 Mt Phousi with kids by Melissa Crossett (1 of 11)It’s also fun and much cozier during the winter!

What mountains have you climbed?  Have you ever become the tourist attraction at a tourist attraction?